Software service provider Novell Inc (Nasdaq: NOVL) on Thursday evening reported higher-than-expected profit for its fiscal second quarter which ended April 30 despite an 8.5 percent fall in revenues reflecting a huge drop in software licenses and services revenue.

Novell Inc shares fell 6.1 percent to $4.16 on Friday during regular trading hours on the Nasdaq stock market.

For the second quarter, net income of Novell nearly tripled to $15.62 million or $0.05 per share from $5.87 million or $0.02 per share in the same quarter a year ago.

Net revenue fell to $216 million from $236 million in the second fiscal quarter of 2008, slightly below the $217.99 million analysts were expecting.

While total invoicing declined, in line with global economic trends, I am pleased with the continued expansion of our operating margin. Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian noted in a statement.

The operating profit margin as a percentage of sales, excluding some costs, rose to 16.2 percent from 15.7 percent in Q1 and 6.6 percent a year earlier.

Looking ahead, Novell said it expects to maintain double-digit non-GAAP operating margins in the full fiscal year 2009, barring unforeseen circumstances.